The One That Got Away

As Sport’s Editor of my high school’s monthly newspaper, The Dart, I was fortunate enough to be down on the sidelines during every football game. Although I had gone out for football the previous year and was too weak to make it past “hell week”, both physically and mentally, I still enjoyed watching the games enormously. I loved being close to the action during the football games and, later, the basketball games.

In some small way, I felt like a part of the team while standing close to them during the games. At the same time, I got to satiate my thirst for writing colorful commentary to articles like “Darts Pierce Vikings” and “Brian Taylor’s ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Foul Line'”.

My interest in sports went beyond football and basketball; I also enjoyed baseball, tennis, and volleyball. The latter was the only female sport I enjoyed watching, aside from gymnastics. Admittingly, gymnastics was more of an eye candy thing to me. I never really took it as a serious sport, such being my sexist viewpoint at the time.

When the newspaper’s advisor, Mrs. Hill, asked me to cover more female sporting events, I took it as a great opportunity to hang out with the gymnastics team for awhile. That is precisely what I did, for awhile. However, Mrs. Hill and some of the newspaper staff of the female persuasion demanded that I include more coverage of female sports within the sports section of the paper.

So, I chose the “sexiest” one, next to gymnastics, as a starting point towards better coverage of female sports – track. I have always been a fan of long legs and tiny derrieres on girls and there was plenty of that among the female track team members.

One girl on the track team was especially alluring to me, Sarah Hiller. She was a tall girl, around 5’10” as I recall, with legs like a thoroughbred racehorse. Atop her athletic physique was a true show-stopping head. With long flowing brown locks, high-set cheekbones, a stunning smile, and eyes you could drown in, I felt she was destined to become a supermodel.

Sarah Hiller at 16She was two years younger than me, a freshman. I noticed how she carried herself on the field. Her demeanor was one of self-assurance and confidence, almost to the point of arrogance. It was that proactive attitude that made her a success. Already at the tender age of 14, Sarah was ahead of the competition. She was decisively winning her races. I took the opportunity after one such victory to approach her. I don’t remember the specifics of that first encounter, but I do remember that I had ulterior motives, aside from merely speaking to her for a newspaper article. I was, from head to toe, smitten with her beauty.

Sarah was also a budding theater student, a subject that I had some experience in. So, I volunteered to help her, in exchange for her helping me with the sports article. Doing this gave me a great opportunity to befriend her.

Although Sarah was an enchanting young lady, I didn’t allow my desire for her to get in the way of my commitment to impartial journalism. The spotlight article I wrote next was solely about Sarah, not because I had a crush on her, as some disgruntled newspaper staffers would later claim, but because I honestly felt she was headed toward a long string of track and field victories.

After I wrote a second spotlight, Mrs. Hill, feeling she knew my character pretty well from past experience, took it upon herself to try and dissuade me from heralding Sarah’s achievements in the school paper.

She felt that I was merely doing it to get in the good graces of Sarah. That was certainly not the case. That may have been a byproduct of the spotlights, but it wasn’t the reason for writing or publishing them. Sarah was simply a great athlete. As a freshman she was already setting state track and field records. Sarah went on to play a key role on the volleyball and basketball team, too, further justifying my publishing of the controversial spotlight articles. Mrs. Hill and the fellow students tried in vain to defame my character as a journalist. Having been a high school teacher now myself, I know that is something which shouldn’t be done. A teacher should never attempt to dash the hopes and aspirations of his or her students.

Having said all that, I still had that crush on Sarah. It wasn’t until Sarah joined a speech competition that I had the opportunity to be with her one-on-one. The competition took place in Tempe, Arizona and we took a long bus journey to get there.

I don’t remember all of the details that took place on that bus trip, only that I had several long conversations with Sarah along the way. She was a fantastic conversationalist, as intelligent as she was beautiful. I don’t know what she saw in me, perhaps very little, but I was lucky to be in her good graces. With Sarah, I was playing in a league quite above what I was accustomed to.

While in Tempe, our speech group stayed at a nearby motel to Arizona State University. From there, we attended and participated in the various speech competition events. It was a regional competition, bringing together some of the best high school speech and drama students. I was fortunate enough to have scored all superiors in a dramatic interpretation I presented. Sarah didn’t make out as well.

One rainy night, as we walked along the grounds of the motel together, she confided in me that she was scared to fail. Sarah was a competitor, in whatever she did. Not being the best at something was a frightful thing to her. So, she was upset with herself at not doing so well in the speech competition. I consoled her. As I recall now, it was during that vulnerable time that we first hugged and kissed.

I felt bad about taking advantage of the situation, so I broke off the kissing quickly. It was an awkward moment, as she didn’t understand why it was I had done that. I tried to explain that I didn’t want her to do something she would later regret. Sarah reassured me that she had wanted to kiss me for a long time, but was waiting until I had made the first move. My heart racing, I quickly picked up where I had left off. A make-out session ensued.

Sarah Hiller at 17Sarah and I became an item, albeit a brief one. After the Tempe trip, we went together for a few months. As I recall, we didn’t do much except spend long hours in the park, talking and kissing. It was my arrogant nature that divided us. I had a golden opportunity, being with someone of Sarah’s caliber, and I blew it. I became judgmental towards her friends. I began to speak badly about them and that was a big “no-no”. Sarah valued her friends, as she should have, and began to see me in a not-so-bright light. It was the beginning of the end for us.

We broke up horribly, with Sarah not wanting to ever speak to me again. As boys often do, I tried to profusely apologize for my derogatory remarks about her friends, but, as girls often do, she wouldn’t hear any of it. It was a true breakup, no follow-up friendship, no amicable pleasantries exchanged as we passed each other in the school halls. We simply parted ways. It is one of those regrets that I have carried with me throughout the years.

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